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The economics of Pope Francis: the promise of markets and the poverty of intervention

Hannah Mead Kling (Belmont Abbey College, Belmont, North Carolina, USA)
Julia R. Norgaard (Pepperdine University, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Nikolai G. Wenzel (Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, North Carolina, USA)

International Journal of Development Issues

ISSN: 1446-8956

Article publication date: 8 December 2022

Issue publication date: 7 March 2023




This paper aims to study Catholic Social Theory (CST) and its implications for economic development. From the early days of CST through the papacy of Benedict XVI, the Church has been consistent about the promise and limits of markets. Markets offer the necessary foundation for human flourishing – but they must be ordered toward the common good and they carry the potential for spiritual loss. Pope Francis has changed course from over a century of CST, with a markedly different view of business, labor and free markets.


This paper summarizes 130 years of CST regarding the economy and describes the turn Pope Francis takes from this tradition. This paper discusses economic theory and analyzes the importance of markets for economic development and assesses Pope Francis’ economics in light of this theory.


This paper discusses the findings that – despite what we assume to be good intentions – the economics of Pope Francis would condemn billions to poverty. Others (Whaples, 2017a) have discussed the economics of Pope Francis.


Others (Whaples, 2017a) have discussed the economics of Pope Francis. This paper finds, however, that most of the critiques are too gentle, and do not recognize the full deleterious impact of the application of the new teachings.



The authors wish to acknowledge Robert Whaples (editor) and the entry authors in Pope Francis and the Caring Society. They also thank the editors of IJDI and two anonymous referees. Any mistakes remain their own. AMDG.


Mead Kling, H., Norgaard, J.R. and Wenzel, N.G. (2023), "The economics of Pope Francis: the promise of markets and the poverty of intervention", International Journal of Development Issues, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 107-122.



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